Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bravo old folks

It’s a Thursday night and the air cools. Winter is around the corner and yours truly will miss the warmth. But let’s be honest, winters in Denver aren’t that bad. Yes the snow falls in buckets but it melts away in mere days. The sun destroys the blanket of white, revealing yellow grass and semi-frozen dog turds. Ah the majesty of nature.

My dear friend’s grandfather passed away Tuesday. I feel for her loss. She was tremendously close to her grandpa, as I was with mine. Grandparents are fascinating creatures. On one hand they’re quick to spoil the little ones. Then your parents regale one and all with stories of the tyrannical despots that now sit, masked as your beloved octogenarians and familial patriarchs & matriarchs. Don’t they look cute as they shuffle along on frail legs that have seen better days. Terrorizing pinchers of facial cheeks, givers of the pocket cash, keepers of our heritage.

In these grizzled bodies lay wisdom beyond comprehension. Technology has swum by those eyes at a dizzying pace. They gathered round the radio in the forgotten days of yore to listen to Seabiscuit beat Man o’ War, to hear the call as Jim Braddock bedeviled and defeated the dreaded Max Baer, and were scared out of their wits when Orson Wells played the biggest practical joke ever during the now infamous War of the Worlds broadcast.

They watched as the economy collapsed and the Great Depression seized the throat of this nation. Yet they endured.

Then they fought and destroyed the Third Reich and the dreams of Japanese imperialism. Over 600,000 men lost their lives yet still they endured.

They saw the country through the Korean and Viet Nam wars. They witnessed a divided country nearly tear itself asunder during years of mass protest and racial strife. Yet they still loved this nation, and endured.

They watched with pride as the United States put a man on the moon and watched with bated breath as NASA, in its finest hour of heroism, saved the astronauts of Apollo 13. They took a deep breath and endured.

Then the telecommunications revolution changed the face of technology. The Internet now made it possible to communicate with anyone on the planet and to find any nugget of information imaginable. And there they sit in awe and wonder, and endure.

Stop for a minute and think about this. Our elders, grandparents and great grandparents, were born anywhere from 1900-1930. Think about the world they were born into. Cars were scarce, television was nonexistent, computers weren’t even contemplated, telephones weren’t universal let alone cellular phones, and business was conducted on reams of paper. Radio and newspapers were the only form of mass media, children really did walk five miles to school, family farms were the dominant agriculture machine, houses were brick, horses provided the most reliable transportation, and election results weren’t known for weeks afterward.

Now fast forward to 2006. The Internet is the lynch pin of research tools, phones now don’t require wires and fit in your breast pocket, microwaves can boil water in seconds, cars go 100mph, planes go 500mph, one nuclear bomb can wipe out a city, there are televisions in 97% of all American households, every CD and DVD you own can now fit in a piece of hardware barely bigger than wallet, and satellites beam porn 24/7.

Our elders have lived through the largest and fastest technological explosion in human history, yet they just keep on trucking. When you stop and think about what they’ve seen it humbles those of us who grew up with all this glorious gadgetry.

So, as these impossibly wise and gentle souls pass through the winters of their collective lives let those of us who still can lend a helping hand…or a round of applause.